The Emily Sonnets: The Life of Emily Dickinson by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Gary Kelley is an absolutely lovely and fascinating book that suffers the question asked of many apparent picture books: who is the intended audience? This book is going to be very hard to shelve.
Yolen has written 16 sonnets that serve as a poetic biography of Emily Dickinson. Kelley’s serene, dark illustrations have a surreal feel, and complement the text nicely.
For all intensive purposes, this book looks like a picture book. Our library shelved it in the children’s poetry section (preschool and early elementary). We also have a juvenile section, where it might be more appropriate in content, but less likely to be taken out because no middle-school student wants to be seen with a book that looks like a picture book. I’m sure most would disagree, but people could make a case for shelving it in biography, especially since it contains three dense pages of notes in the back that cover Emily Dickinson’s life in detail.
It is too bad that the audience for The Emily Sonnets: The Life of Emily Dickinson is not clear cut. What is clear, however, is this book would be perfect for a lesson on sonnets, regardless of the age of the students.
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Creative Editions (August 29, 2012)
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